"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is Jonathan Safran Foer's heartrending New York novel. In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key...The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open? So begins a quest that takes Oskar - ...
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is Jonathan Safran Foer's heartrending New York novel. In a vase in a closet, a couple of years after his father died in 9/11, nine-year-old Oskar discovers a key...The key belonged to his father, he's sure of that. But which of New York's 162 million locks does it open? So begins a quest that takes Oskar - inventor, letter-writer and amateur detective - across New York's five boroughs and into the jumbled lives of friends, relatives and complete strangers. He gets heavy boots, he gives himself little bruises and he inches ever nearer to the heart of a family mystery that stretches back fifty years. But will it take him any closer to, or even further from, his lost father? Moving, literary and innovative, perfect for fans of Lorrie Moore and Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" was made into a major film starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, released in 2012. Jonathan Safran Foer was born in 1977. He is the author of "Everything is Illuminated", which won the National Jewish Book Award and the Guardian First Book award, and "Eating Animals", and the editor of "A Convergence of Birds".
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I rate this book a "fair +"; not quite good. Interesting concepts and overall narrative. Heart rending journey of a young boy dealing with 9/11 in some ways all alone, with only his boyish perspective to help him sort things out.
Positives: understanding perspectives, thought processes of the young protagonist. Comparison with our bombing of Dresden during WWII, with some excellent historical tidbits.
Negatives: writing convoluted, and not too confusing to follow but also not fun to have to try to follow. Kind of gross descriptions of sexual encounters: too explicit (for no good reason that I could appreciate), and inappropriate since a grandmother was allegedly describing these to her grandson.
Some interesting characters, but the story developed them in disjointed segments. Again, just not fun to follow.
I wouldn't recommend it only because there are too many books to read. Why waste your time on a so-so one unless you want to read everything written on the ramifications of 9/11.
Jan 12, 2012
I did not like this book at all. It was extremely gimmicky & incredibly disjointed. There was nothing I liked about it nor did my book club & I cannot imagine how they can make a movie about it unless they completely rewrite it.
Jan 11, 2008
I honestly believe Foer to be one of the English language's next great writers. Everything is Illuminated proved that, and Extremely Loud does its part to affirm his great talent. The story is about a young boy who's father was killed in the 9/11 attack, and his journey throughout New York City to reconnect with what he has lost. This masterful story brilliantly highlights the human condition and brings a consciousness to all Americans who feel a part of their innocence was lost on 9/11.
May 10, 2007
Brilliant, sad masterpiece
The book is a story about Oskar Schell, a 9-year old whose father was killed on 9/11. Schell is a precocious, intelligent child and also one who has been crushed by his loss. He refers to his sadness as ?heavy boots,? and he wears them often. The story is also framed by Oskar?s grandparents ? his grandfather, who left the family long before Oskar was born, lived through the horror of the Dresden bombing and has lost the power to speak. He is so terrified of emotional pain that he?s withdrawn, staying mute and needing to create ?Nothing? spaces to exist in. His torment is brutal, and because he doesn?t speak (his hands are tattooed with ?Yes? and ?No? to make communication easier), he writes letters to his son from afar.
The book incorporates pictures that Oskar takes with his grandfather?s camera (passed onto him), many of which he snaps while investigating what he hopes is a clue to get him closer to his father, even in death. He discovers a key in a vase his father bought, and is determined to find the lock which it opens. Watching Oskar go through this exercise, and learn how to cope with his loss, and the horror of that day, is a hard thing to do. This is literally one of the sadder books I?ve ever read, but because it?s so emotionally connective, I enjoyed it immensely. Foer is a sickeningly talented writer (married to Nicole Krauss, another talent) and often he seems to be grinning while he writes, but he continues to be able to portray pain and sadness alongside humor in a distinct voice. This is a fantastic book.
Apr 3, 2007
Jonathan Safran Foer's novel about a young boy named Oscar dealing with a loss in the wake of 9/11 explores much more than this present day event. The novel's twists and turns through Oscar's adventures around NYC and deep histories spanning generations make this book one that you can't put down. It is creative and inventive and is unlike anything else I have ever read. Read the first page and I promise you won't put it down!
Publishers Weekly, 2005-01-31 Oskar Schell, hero of this brilliant follow-up to Foer's bestselling Everything Is Illuminated, is a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist. Like the second-language narrator of Illuminated, Oskar turns his naively precocious vocabulary to the understanding of historical tragedy, as he searches New York for the lock that matches a mysterious key left by his father when he was killed in the September 11 attacks, a quest that intertwines with the story of his grandparents, whose lives were blighted by the firebombing of Dresden. Foer embellishes the narrative with evocative graphics, including photographs, colored highlights and passages of illegibly overwritten text, and takes his unique flair for the poetry of miscommunication to occasionally gimmicky lengths, like a two-page soliloquy written entirely in numerical code. Although not quite the comic tour de force that Illuminated was, the novel is replete with hilarious and appalling passages, as when, during show-and-tell, Oskar plays a harrowing recording by a Hiroshima survivor and then launches into a Poindexterish disquisition on the bomb's "charring effect." It's more of a challenge to play in the same way with the very recent collapse of the towers, but Foer gambles on the power of his protagonist's voice to transform the cataclysm from raw current event to a tragedy at once visceral and mythical. Unafraid to show his traumatized characters' constant groping for emotional catharsis, Foer demonstrates once again that he is one of the few contemporary writers willing to risk sentimentalism in order to address great questions of truth, love and beauty. Agent, Nicole Aragi. 11-city author tour; foreign rights sold in 12 countries. (Apr. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2012-02-27 Safran Foer's bestseller follows the adventures of nine-year-old Oskar Schell, a scientist, collector, tambourine player, and solver of puzzles. The young boy roams New York City in a fervent search for a lock that will match the key left behind by his father, who was killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11. Jeff Woodman captures all of Oskar's contradictions: a prodigy who understands physics and lives in terror of the immediate world around him. Richard Ferrone provides Oskar's grandfather a gravelly voice, while Barbara Caruso deftly renders Oskar's grandmother, lending her a slight European accent and the right mix of wisdom and helplessness. This fine ensemble recording will keep listeners engaged. A Mariner paperback. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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